Sometimes I learn (the hard way!) that teaching *everything* at once might not be the smartest idea. I’ve shown how to make tree trunks a bunch of times…but most of the time there’s a fox, clouds, grass, leaves….all kinds of elements to squeeze into a tutorial. But….this new format for me is giving me space to REALLY be helpful for you to learn!

Today’s for sure one of those cases – instead of worrying about all the other details, I’ve focused just on tree bark. You can of course apply that to lots of other projects, and on the blog I’ve linked a few older tutorials you can try it out with if you don’t want to just make blocks of bark like I did.


Watch the video below or click HERE to see it on YouTube.

This is the plethora of colors used – don’t worry as much about which color to try as thinking about if you need a dark, medium, or light – and whether you want the wood to be more red, or more yellow, or more neutral. That will get you a lot farther along in figuring out your color choices than just following exactly what was done with these crazy test samples.

The wood in the top right made me think about so many videos I’ve done before – I’ve seen lots of folks see my marker skip all over and end up creating dashed lines for the bark. That’s where I realized I needed to do something focusing clearly on the bark so my marker technique didn’t get in the way.

The grey bark is really zoomed in – or if you’re drawing tree bark with really big chunks of raised bark. Every tree is different, so remember that Google is your friend! Scale the texture to fit the size of the tree you’re creating.

Birch bark peels off differently than other trees – it’s in bands horizontally around the trunk, causing the dark spots to be horizontal rather than vertical.

Putting a tree into context is really where the rubber meets the road. It’s rare (or never at all?) that a tree is seen against a white background – adding any color, whether light or dark, makes a huge difference. I hope the journey of this tree helped show just how many layers and changes it might take to get to this stage!

A few tree/wood tutorials

I promised a couple extra tutorials – in case you wanted a little more info!

Simpler in pen and ink with a watercolor wash:

A tree in perspective – with snow

A light colored fence…



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